Throughout the Puget Sound region on Tuesday morning, residents found ash on their cars and around their homes as wildfires burned more than 150,000 acres in Washington state.
KIRO 7 asked people to submit zip codes for areas in which they saw ash falling. Our digital team took hundreds of submitted zip codes and put them in the below map to give an idea on which areas saw the most ash fall.
How to read this map: In dark red areas, the number of reports was as high as 78, and in lighter red areas, there were fewer reports. Click or tap on a zip code area to see the exact number of reports.
Scroll down to see the map and read specifics on how the data was collected.
About the data in this map: This map is not based on a scientific measurement of ash falling. Unlike something such as rainfall, there is not a gauge in the state that measures ash.
The intensity map is based on the number of ash fall reports by zip code based on user-generated submissions. Nearly 2,000 people sent reports to KIRO 7 News.
The map is a way to compare locations to see how many of your neighbors and friends also have reported ash.
If zero reports are shown for a zip code, it doesn’t necessarily mean that no ash fell in the area, but rather that no reports were received from that area as of Tuesday afternoon. If you see a zip code for which you’d like to submit a report, click here.
Why this map differs from an air quality map: This ash map does not reflect the air quality in the Puget Sound region. Health leaders and air quality experts told KIRO 7 News that the ash and air quality are two separate matters.
The haze may look bad as it hangs over the skyline, but it is at substantially lower levels than when we saw during the smoky conditions in August, when the region had some of the worst air quality in the United States.
The air quality in the Seattle area stayed at moderate for most of the day. The levels of health concern with air quality are ranked as follows: good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy and hazardous.
Puget Sound Clean Air Quality scientist Phil Swartzendruber told KIRO 7 News that the ash is not a major health concern, like air quality conditions.
“There is a concern (with ash). Those larger particles – those can irritate the nose, throat and eyes,” Swartzendruber said.
“They don’t have the same kind of health risk as the finer particles. The finer particles are really small, so small you can’t see them; they can go deeper into our lungs. They have much different set, and a more serious set, and pose a risk for cardiovascular disease and asthma.”
Swartzendruber had the following advice for people around smoke and ash: Take notice of what’s going on if you’re feeling symptoms such as irritation and go to a place that has filtered air, such as somewhere indoors.